Thanking a Mentor

This week, a significant leader/mentor in my life will turn 80 years old.  At the recent Global Leadership Summit, we were challenged by Bill Hybels to reach out to those who helped mold our leadership skills and tell them “thank you”.  This morning, I wrote a letter to this leader.  Here is an excerpt from that letter:

leadership legacy

I just wanted to say “thank you” once again for all that you’ve done for me in my life.  I am often asked who was a major influencer.  Your name tops the list (after my parents).  Here’s why:

  • You taught me that ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.
  • You taught me to be flexible. “There is always a way.”  I believed you, acted on it, and found your words to be true.
  • You taught me to think on my feet.
  • You taught me to be direct.
  • You taught me how to sell.
  • You taught me how to work a crowd.
  • You taught me how to produce.
  • You taught me how to get along with others who are vastly different than I am.
  • You allowed me to be me.
  • You pushed me to be excellent and then to become better.
  • You taught me how to speak in front of 10 and 10,000.
  • You allowed me to be creative and gave me room to do it.
  • You showed me that leaders can open up to confidants.
  • You taught me to set high standards and not to lower them.
  • You gave me the opportunity to be exposed to cultures all over the world.
  • You showed me how to celebrate the “wins” of your team. You always were delighted to hear our stories from the road.
  • You taught me that consistent discipline works.
  • You showed me that the leader’s dream can be infectious.
  • You taught me that I am capable of far more than I thought I was.
  • You introduced me to the world, and now I have friends all over the planet.
  • You believed in me. I can’t thank you enough for that.

So, who in your life could you “thank” for helping you? It really takes moments to craft a letter.  But you will encourage a mentor in ways you cannot imagine.

They invested in you.  Invest in them today.  Thank a Mentor.

Intentionally Value Others by Jim Johnson

value others

At the end of May, I had the opportunity to speak at the NACAAP Annual Conference in Denver.  In one of my sessions, I spoke on how leaders can add value to customers, coworkers, and their communities.  Part of what I shared was based upon John Maxwell’s writing.  Here’s a snippet of what I shared…

Remember, our work is not about quotas or reports.  Our work is about PEOPLE.

We tend to focus our work on data, reports, spreadsheets, etc.  When we do this, we miss the most important part of our day – the people around us.

So we need to intentionally value others.  How do we do that?

For me, one of the most effective ways to value others is to intentionally verbalize my appreciation of them and speak potential into them.

I have observed leaders are sometimes hesitant to verbally value their team members.  In fact, years ago I had a boss tell me, “I won’t tell you that you did a good job. Want to know why?  Because if I do that, you won’t try any more.”  This person knew nothing about me or people.  Regardless of your position, we all like to hear “job well done” from time to time.  It does motivate people.

I have been pushing myself to make the time to look a team member in the eyes and tell them “thank you” for their efforts.  I’m working harder at verbally giving them kudos.  I’ve also been intentionally speaking potential into others (i.e. sharing my vision of where I see them growing and ways I will help them get to their goals).

Last week, I gave a leadership book to an emerging leader and challenged them to read it.  I’ve offered that after each section, I would take him to lunch to discuss what he’s been learning.  Intentional.  Purposeful.  Direct.

I’ve had leaders in my life who have done this.  An independent grocery store chain owner did this for me almost 30 years ago.  “As I watch you work, I’m convinced there’s nothing you can’t do if you set you mind to it.”  Those words were (and still are) gold to me.

The founder of an international music organization taught me that anything is possible.  Don’t accept “no” as the final answer – there is always a way to make something happen. These words helped me maneuver through tough situations in Indonesia and in Communist-controlled Estonia (25+ years ago).  I apply this mindset in my life today.

I speak potential into my own son during baseball season.  I’ve seen my own words become reality to him.  I hope he holds on to these words.

There is no down-side in speaking value and potential into another human being.  But we miss out on changing someone’s life when we withhold empowering, encouraging words.

Today, speak value to someone else.  Speak their potential.  It will change them.  It will change your team, your company, your community.

Leaders truly value others – and it is intentional.

 

What Does it Mean to be Coachable? by Jim Johnson

As a leader, you are the coach of your team.  I’m assuming you conduct at least monthly coaching sessions designed to help your team members become better at their jobs. A lot has been written on being an effective coach.  But here’s my question for you today:

What does it mean to be coachable? 

I would love to read your comments, insights, thoughts on this.  Please comment so others can read the responses.

michael jordan on being coachable

 

 

Overcoming by Jim Johnson 

I am continually amazed by my children. They love to push themselves and seem to excel in things that they do. Believe me, they are not perfect in any way. But their resilience encourages me.

Last night my 5th grade son performed the role of Captain Hook and his school’s musical Peter Pan, Jr.  Around Thanksgiving when he tried out for this part, I will admit I was surprised. He has typically been very shy. But he wanted to go for it. Perhaps it was because his sister had a leading role in Shrek the Musical a couple of years ago. Regardless he went for the part he wanted and he earned it.

Last night our elementary school hosted its 36th annual Music Theater. There were a couple of hundred people in the audience. And right before the performance my son got stage fright.
My wife, the principal, his teacher, and I all talked with him. It was a combined effort of encouragement and speaking positive affirmations to him. At one point I told him, “you can do this.” And he looked at me and very emphatically said, “I don’t think I can.”

I reminded him of an incident in baseball last year where he was feeling the same thing about pitching. I reminded him that he faced that obstacle and was able to overcome it. I told him I believed he could overcome this, too. His teacher later told me that she also used baseball as a way to encourage him.

His teacher then asked him to go do his first scene. He did and performed it incredibly well – including a vocal solo. When he walked off stage he told his teacher he didn’t think he could go back and do the next scene. She said, “you’ve got to give me one more.”

He went on to his next scene. He did very well in that one. When he walked off stage he looked at his teacher and said, “I don’t think I can do another one.” She looked him straight in the eye and said, “come on, man. You’ve got to give me one more.”

The third scene he was on stage again, he did great. When he walked off stage, his teacher told me later that he looked at her and said, “I’ve got this.” He went on and had a great performance.

Capt Hook and his teacher

I am so incredibly proud of my son who faced an incredible fear – the fear of speaking in public, performing, of being vulnerable in front of people he knew and people he did not know. And yet he faced his fear, and he beat his fear.

There is a lesson in this for all of us. Personal growth comes when we face our fears head-on. When we step out on that stage and go for it. When we have mentors and coaches who encouraged us along the way. When we realize deep inside that we can do it.

What fear are you facing today? Get with your coach or mentor and let them encourage you. And then jump up on that stage and dazzle yourself and others!
You can do it!